Sumter School District COVID-19 Cases Declining But Still High; quarantine totals drop again, but many were already at home last week with remote learning
After consecutively recording new high-positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff in the first two weeks of January, the Sumter School District saw a significant decrease in virus cases last week.
In the third week of January, the local district still reported 360 positive cases of COVID-19, but that’s down about 27% from the 491 cases in week 2 of the month, according to data released Wednesday. by the district.
The total number of cases is still the third highest weekly tally since the start of the school year in August.
Quarantine totals for staff and students fell by an even greater rate for the week of Jan. 15-21, but those reductions can be explained by the fact that nine schools in the district switched to learning at distance last week. Obviously, when a school is closed, the extra people aren’t being directed to quarantine, according to Shelly Galloway, the district’s executive director of communications and community engagement. Positive cases are still being reported to the school, whether in person or remotely, she added.
Among schools offering in-person learning last week, officials ordered 89 teachers/staff to self-quarantine. That was down from 217 in the second week of January. Similarly, the number of new students quarantined last week fell by 1,118 – or 38% – to 1,836.
Total quarantined students still represent about 12.5% of district enrollment, but are down from about 20% the previous week.
After an increase in school closures in early January due to the omicron variant, SC’s Department of Health and Environmental Control revised its COVID-19 school guidelines again on January 16.
The new guidelines shorten the length of time staff members must quarantine after being exposed to the virus and ease testing requirements for quarantined students.
The intent and hope is that the new guidelines will combat staffing shortages as school districts across the state try to stay open to in-person learning, according to the spokesperson for the Department of Education. state, Ryan Brown, who spoke to The Sumter Item on Wednesday.
He added that a majority of districts are currently reviewing the new DHEC guidelines. Galloway said the local district is also reviewing the new guidelines.